Sunday, September 06, 2009

Misinformation on deaf persons and HIV/AIDS

Source Link - Misinformation on deaf persons and HIV/AIDS

The Editor, Sir:

Please permit me to respond in my capacity as public relations officer for the Jamaica Association for the Deaf to an article titled 'Ridiculous rise in HIV/AIDS cases among the Deaf', published in the Daily Observer on Monday, August 10. I would like to address some of the issues raised in this article, which we consider inaccurate.

On the matter of risky sexual activities, we believe that there were considerable generalities since no actual statistics were presented to verify these assumptions. It is also important to note that while Jamaica AIDS Support for Life may be working with members of the deaf community as part of its target audience, sufficient research has not been carried out to determine whether the levels of HIV infection are different among the deaf from any other demographic within the wider population.

Public-education campaigns

The issue of HIV/AIDS is far-reaching and the massive public-education campaigns being promoted by both the Government and private groups have not strategically targeted the deaf community in a real and effective way. This is due to a large extent to the inappropriate designs of the various messages. Consequently, and understandably, there would be a gap in their knowledge about this most important issue.

Recognising the negative impact that HIV/AIDS could have on the deaf community if not addressed in a structured manner, the United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organisation and the Jamaica Association for the Deaf, in collaboration with the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission, have embarked on a one-year programme to train young deaf adults as peer educators in (a) The development of competencies for peer education (b) HIV knowledge (c) Dance techniques and (d) Choreographing HIV messages.

The first workshop was held earlier in July where 25 deaf adults were trained. The objective of this project is to build the capacity of these 25 persons to help educate and improve awareness among deaf adolescents. The main technique employed is dance-drama, as this medium has proven to be one of the most effective forms of communication for deaf persons.

With a society so consumed with crime and violence, the last thing we would want to do is give the impression that deaf persons might be overly vulnerable.

I am, etc.,

MARCIA ANDERSON

manderson@jamdeaf.org.jm

Jamaica Association for the Deaf